11 January 2016

Roni returns! (2)

More about the good news announced yesterday by the Westport Folk and Bluegrass Festival committee - Roni Stoneman, First Lady of the 5-String Banjo, will return to Ireland this summer, combining a friendly visit with select performances including (as in 2013) a set at Westport.

Advance news of Roni's first visit appeared on the BIB on 23 November 2012, where you can find an outline of her family's historic role in old-time, bluegrass, and country music, and some salient points of her own unique career. Everything there still applies* - and after that first trip, Roni is keen to see Ireland again, meet and pick with and for the friends made last time, and make (and pick with and for) new friends. This video of her on a festival stage in 2015 shows that she has lost none of her dynamism.

The BIB has drawn attention to Roni's own story, Pressing on, published (2007) by the University of Illinois Press. Murphy Henry's Pretty good for a girl: women in bluegrass (2013) describes her as 'this immensely gifted woman'. As the BIB wrote in 2012,

This will be a unique opportunity for lovers of bluegrass music over here to hear, and meet, someone who is both a historic musician and entertainer in her own right, and has a family background that sets her only one generation away from the beginnings of recorded country music.

The visit is planned to last about a month, beginning in Dublin in the last week of May, with the Westport festival at mid-point, and rounding off in Munster in late June. Event organisers who are interested in presenting Roni, local groups of bluegrass enthusiasts who would like to meet her, and media people who would like to interview her, should contact the BIB editor and/or Tom Connor, Roni's husband and manager. Roni and Tom will be accompanied on this trip by guitarist and singer Bill Biber - from Long Island, and now based in Nashville.

*Update: While Roni was here in 2013, her family was being inducted into the Blue Ridge Music Hall of Fame (see the BIB for 8 June 2013); and fifteen months ago the Reunion of Professional Entertainers in Nashville, TN, awarded her the title of Musician of the Year (see the BIB for 3 Oct. 2014).

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